One of the subjects many of us struggle with is writing. We might be able to quickly spot a well written piece, but have little idea of how to get our children to write well. Many of the products I have seen suggest creative writing topics for the kids, but leave you with little direction for teaching. In some ways, this is what I experienced while doing 1st and 2nd grade work with my middle son. I added those ‘creative writing’ prompts, but felt clueless about how to guide him with his writing. Other products with rave reviews are geared for the older student, thus leaving a gap for writing instruction.
WriteShop has launched a new series geared to the primary years which utilizes guided writing exercises, discussion, and independent writing for instruction. Our family was sent Primary Book A which targets kindergartners through second graders. I have been using it with D, who’s doing kindergarten work right now, with R sitting in on the lessons to help and maybe absorb as well.
Each ‘lesson’ has a theme. The first one is animals.
Using prompt ideas in the manual, we have written sentences about pets (real and silly) as well as other themed ideas for animals (farm, ocean, etc.) The parent/teacher is to help guide them in repeating their idea in a complete sentence.
So, if I ask “What kind of pet does Aunt Sara have?”, D should respond along the lines of “Aunt Sara has a dog.” rather than just saying the word dog.
After a few sentences are constructed, we read through the sentences together. As he’s doing great with his reading, he often reads the sentences to me with almost no help required. We’ve also done brainstorming, drawing and sentence construction as he builds up to a final ‘project’ for the lesson.
Overall, I have found this to be a well thought out program to really help guide a student in formulating their ideas into sentences. Rather than just provide a topic (e.g. write about your favorite animal), the whole process is broken down for them. It definitely less ‘scary’ for a student to brainstorm about favorite animals, choose one for focus and then continue down the path than to just see a headline reading “Tell me about your favorite animal.”
As we continue with the book, I plan to have my middle son work as assistant in the hopes he will pick up on how to construct a better sentence. Eventually, Write Shop plans to have other books in this series. I know that I’ll be keeping my eye out for them.
Primary A can be purchased either as a print book ($26.95 retail) or an ebook ($24.25 retail.) Both include some worksheets to use with each lesson (the book tells you when to pull the sheet out.) The other two books planned for this series are tentatively priced the same. Given the small difference between print and ebook pricing, my personal preference would be for the physical product. But, I recognize that there are some homeschoolers that like the instant gratification an ebook provides.